Overpaid public servants must return money

Letters, Normal

mone”Quis custodiet ipsos! Custodes? (Who is to guard the guards themselves?)
Juvenal (63 -130)


I REFER to your report “PSC bosses overpaid by millions” (Dec 29).
If the PNG Public Service Commission (PSC) is currently under investigation, then all those who have been identified by the Public Accounts Committee should be required to take paid leave until after the investigation is completed.
How can the PNG public service have any faith in the leadership when the rot apparently starts from the top?
If there is prima facie evidence that the public service commissioners have breached the law, the recipients should not be allowed to continue to act in their role as commissioners until the matter is resolved.
No wonder there are constant disputes over “missing” millions of kina.
Where overpayments are detected, there must be immediate action.
There are only two possible alternatives:
1. There has been an unintentional mistake by both those paying the out public monies and those receiving the funds; or
2. There has been intentional theft.
In the first instance, those who have received funds they were not entitled to must demonstrate they did not know they were being overpaid.
They must return the money back immediately.
If necessary, recipients of overpayment must either negotiate with their employer (the Government) to return the money by instalments or get a bank loan like everyone else.
Recipients MUST not come to believe they actually owned the overpaid money.
This is essential; otherwise, it sets a benchmark that others could expect to follow.
In the second instance, it is a matter for the police, public prosecutor and courts to pursue the matter.
While no one should be declared guilty until proven so in a court, there might be some possible leniency offered by the court if the recipients paid all overpaid money back immediately as an act of good faith.
Any departure from the above alternatives will give an entirely wrong message to the rest of the PNG public service. – Paul Oates Via email